Homemade Bagels Recipe

This easy homemade bagels recipe proves that you can make deliciously chewy bagels in your own kitchen with only a few basic ingredients and baking tools!

Bagel varieties

A new month, a new year, a truckload of carbs.

Today I’m teaching you how to make homemade bagels with only a few basic ingredients and kitchen tools. Today you’re going to tackle any fears of yeast and bread baking– and I’m right here to guide you along!

Homemade bagels

Bagels, crème brûlée, soft pretzels, and hot ham & cheese pockets. What do these foods have in common? Each seem really complicated to make at home, but secretly couldn’t be easier. Homemade bagels taste fresher, are cheaper, and you’ll earn the bragging rights for from-scratch baking. (PS: Each of those recipes has a video tutorial!)

Video: How to Make Homemade Bagels

Here’s a video to guide you along the process.

Bagels Require a Lean Dough

The 1st step is to make the bagel dough. This is the same dough you use for everything bagels, a recipe already published on my blog. There’s only 5 ingredients.

  • Warm Water: Liquid for the dough.
  • Yeast: Allows the dough to rise. I recommend an instant or active dry yeast.
  • Bread Flour: A high protein flour is necessary for bagels. We want a dense and chewy texture, not soft and airy like cinnamon rolls. Bread flour is the only solution!
  • Brown Sugar: Bakeries use barley malt syrup to sweeten the bagel dough– it can be a little difficult to find, but brown sugar is a fine substitute.
  • Salt: Flavor.

Notice how there is no fat? This is called a lean dough. Lean dough is ideal for loaves of bread and recipes like focaccia, pizza dough, and no knead bread. Sweet bread, such as cinnamon rolls, include fat for richness and flavor.

Bagel bread dough

You can prepare the dough with a mixer or by hand. Kneading the dough by hand is imperative. Bagel dough is very heavy and dense, which could rattle your mixer too much. You’ll only knead for a few minutes and you can watch me do it in the video above. After the dough is kneaded, let it rise for 60-90 minutes. Punch it down, then divide into 8 sections and shape into bagels.

How to Shape Bagels

Shaping bagels is easier than it looks. Poke your finger through the center of the ball of dough, then use 2 fingers to widen the hole to about 1.5 – 2 inches. That’s it! I don’t really do anything fancy and the bagels don’t need to be perfect. Mine never are!

Bagel water bath

Bagel Water Bath

Bagels must cook for 1 minute on each side in a pot of boiling water. This is actually the most important step in the whole recipe. Why?

  1. Boiling the bagels gives the bagel its beautiful shine. But looks aren’t everything– this shine is actually a result of the dough’s starches gelatinizing which creates a crisp, shiny coating. I learned this from Cooks Illustrated.
  2. Boiling bagels cooks the outer layer of dough, which guarantees they’ll hold their shape in the oven.

Add honey or barley malt syrup to the water bath. Why? The sugar adds extra caramelization and crisp. Brushing the boiled bagels with egg wash does the same. Don’t skip either!

Homemade bagels

Homemade Bagel Varieties

  1. Plain Bagels: Follow the recipe below.
  2. Cinnamon Raisin Bagels: Follow my cinnamon raisin bagels recipe.
  3. Everything Bagels: Follow my everything bagels recipe.
  4. Sesame Seed Bagels: Use 1/3 cup sesame seeds. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. Use more as needed.
  5. Poppy Seed Bagels: Use 1/3 cup poppy seeds. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. Use more as needed.
  6. Salt Bagels: Use 1/3 cup coarse salt. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, top with or dunk each bagel into topping. These are pretty salty, so feel free to go lighter on the salt.
  7. Cheese Bagels (Asiago, Cheddar, etc): Add 1/2 cup of shredded cheese to the dough when you add the flour. After brushing with egg wash in step 9, sprinkle with extra cheese.

Some readers have used this bagel recipe to make whole wheat bagels by replacing half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do!

Homemade cinnamon raisin bagel

Bagel with cream cheese

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Bagels image

Homemade Bagels Recipe

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 2 hours, 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 3 hours
  • Yield: 8 bagels
  • Category: Bread
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Make fresh bagels right at home with this tested dough recipe. Don’t skip the water bath and egg wash– both provide an extra chewy and golden brown crust.


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 cups (360ml) warm water (between 100-110°F, 38-43°C)
  • 2 and 3/4 teaspoons instant or active dry yeast*
  • 4 cups (480g) bread flour, plus more for work surface and hands*
  • 1 Tablespoon packed light or dark brown sugar (or barley malt syrup)*
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • coating the bowl: nonstick spray or 1 Tablespoon olive oil
  • egg wash: 1 egg white beaten with 1 Tablespoon water

For Boiling

  • 2 quarts water
  • 1/4 cup (60g) honey (or barley malt syrup)*

Instructions

  1. Prepare the dough: Whisk the warm water and yeast together in the bowl of your stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment. Cover and allow to sit for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the flour, brown sugar, and salt. Beat on low speed for 2 minutes. The dough is very stiff and will look somewhat dry.
  3. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. With lightly floured hands, knead the dough for 4-5 minutes. The dough is too heavy for the mixer to knead it!
  4. Lightly grease a large bowl with oil or nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to coat all sides in the oil. Cover the bowl with aluminum foil, plastic wrap, or a clean kitchen towel.  Allow the dough to rise at room temperature for 60-90 minutes or until double in size.
  5. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
  6. Shape the bagels: When the dough is ready, punch it down to release any air bubbles. Divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. (Just eyeball it– doesn’t need to be perfect!) Shape each piece into a ball. Press your index finger through the center of each ball to make a hole about 1.5 – 2 inches in diameter. Watch video above for a visual. Loosely cover the shaped bagels with kitchen towel and rest for a few minutes as you prepare the water bath.
  7. Preheat oven to 425°F (218°C).
  8. Water bath: Fill a large, wide pot with 2 quarts of water. Whisk in the honey. Bring water to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-high. Drop bagels in, 2-4 at a time, making sure they have enough room to float around. Cook the bagels for 1 minute on each side.
  9. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg wash on top and around the sides of each bagel. Place 4 bagels onto each lined baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. You want the bagels to be a dark golden brown. Remove from the oven and allow bagels to cool on the baking sheets for 20 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.
  10. Slice, toast, top, whatever you want! Cover leftover bagels tightly and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Notes

  1. Overnight Make Ahead Instructions: Prepare the dough through step 4, but allow the dough to rise overnight in the refrigerator. The slow rise gives the bagels wonderful flavor! In the morning, remove the dough from the refrigerator and let the dough rise for 45 minutes at room temperature. Continue with step 5. I don’t recommend shaping the bagels the night before as they may puff up too much overnight.
  2. Freezing Make Ahead Instructions: Baked bagels freeze wonderfully! Freeze them for up to 3 months, thaw overnight in the refrigerator or at room temperature, then warm to your liking. You can also freeze the bagel dough. After punching down the dough in step 6, wrap the dough tightly in plastic wrap, then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator, then punch the dough down again to release any air bubbles. Continue with the rest of step 6.
  3. Special Tools: stand mixer fitted with a dough hook attachment, large baking sheets (I love these), big pot (I use my 5.5 quart dutch oven), pastry brush.
  4. Yeast: Use instant or active dry yeast. If using active dry yeast, the rise time may be up to 2 hours. 1 standard packet is about 2 and 1/4 teaspoons, so you will need a little more than 1 packet of yeast.
  5. Bread Flour: Bagels require a high protein flour. Bread flour is a must. Here are all my recipes using bread flour if you want more recipes to use it up!
  6. Barley Malt Syrup: This ingredient can be a little hard to find, but truly gives bagels that traditional malty flavor we all know and love. Most natural food stores carry it. I offer alternatives such as brown sugar in the dough and honey in the water bath; I’ve made bagels with these alternatives AND with barley malt syrup and honestly love both versions.
  7. Bread Machine: Place the dough ingredients into the pan of the machine. Program the machine to dough or manual, then start. After 9-10 minutes, the dough will be quite stiff. Allow the machine to complete its cycle, then continue with the recipe.
  8. By Hand: If you do not have a mixer, you can mix the dough together in a large bowl then knead by hand for 10-15 minutes.
  9. Bagel Varieties: See blog post above for various add-ins and toppings. Note that the toppings are added after the egg wash in step 9. Some readers have used this bagel recipe to make whole wheat bagels by replacing half of the bread flour with whole wheat flour. I haven’t tried it, but let me know if you do!

Adapted from a mix of recipes I’ve tried: King Arthur FlourCook’s Illustrated, and Complete Book of Breads

229 Comments

  1. They were so much easier to bake than I thought they would be and they came out perfect and delicious the first try. I may never buy bagels again!

  2. Hi! I’ve been wanting do bake bagels for a while now… Your recipe convinced me to try them this upcoming weekend :). I still have one question, though: does butter in the dough make a difference? Half of the recipes I’ve seen don’t add any and the other half add about 1-2 tbsp.

    1. Hi Amalia! Adding fat to the dough would soften the crumb, so they wouldn’t be as dense and bagel-like. You can add a little butter if that’s the texture you are going for though. The dough may be a little sticky.

  3. Hi! I’m so excited to try this recipe! I moved to Germany and their bagels are nothing like NJ and NY. The problem I’m having is finding bread flour. I can only find high protein flour, which I know has more protein than bread flour. Can I still use it? If so, does the quantity of water change?
    Thanks so much! I love trying your different recipes!

    1. Hi Yasmeen! You can use high protein flour instead of bread flour. I recommend adding 1-2 extra Tbsp of water to compensate 🙂

  4. I made this recipe and the bagels were delicious! I made them a bit smaller and whipped up some jalapeno cream cheese. Might be a new go-to recipe!

  5. I made bagels trying your recipe this month and they were delicious. Mine didn’t rise as high as I like. I think I may have over-proofed my dough. I’m definitely trying this recipe again! Thanks for all you share!

  6. These are so good and so easy. I made plain, everything and cinnamon raisin. This will be my go to recipe from now on. Thanks for sharing.

  7. I made the bagels for this months challenge. I made a huge mistake and it made them inedible. I accidentally replaced all the sugar for salt. The yeast didn’t have anything to work with, which is why they didn’t rise and I sprinkled cinnamon “sugar” aka salt on top. Practice makes better.

  8. LOVE this recipe!
    I’ve made about 6 batches of bagels this month. Took some to work to share & I got great compliments!
    Thank you Sally!

  9. Loved learning how to make bagels! So much easier than I thought it would be. The recipe and tutorial were spot on!

  10. If you place all ingredients into bread machine & press dough & allow it to go through the entire cycle [knead & rise] it will still be good?

  11. I made these yesterday, did a double batch because my family of 8 are New Yorkers who love bagels. They came out thin and airy. What did I do wrong!? I’m not new to bread making, my yeast bloomed nicely and I followed the recipe & instructions.

      1. I made no changes and all my ingredients are fresh. Quite frustrating. The dough was not very firm like you described, that was my first tip off that something was not right.

  12. Do you know what to add to make canadian maple bagels? I have tried the everything bagel recipe. Excellent! Will be making them instead of buying all the time!

  13. I am very excited to try this bagel recipe. I was wondering if there was a third option for the water boil. I have a child who is allergic to corn and honey. So I cannot use the malt syrup (corn), or the honey. Is there another option for that step? Thanks!

  14. Any ideas for making these gluten free? How would i need to change the recipe to adapt and not get such dense bagels from gf flour?

  15. These are addictive! Have made different flavors ranging from sweet, fruit and cheese. The more times you make them, the easier they get.

  16. This recipe is wonderful, tastes great and was easy to follow – thanks Sally for the helpful video and tutorial steps. In time I will try the recipe again 🙂

  17. Out of this world! So far I have made poppy, sesame, everything, and cinnamon raisin varieties, and I cannot wait to make them again. I had a huge panel of friends and family taste them, and everyone loved them! At first I was worried about baking with yeast, but these were super easy.

  18. Hi! Have you ever tried adding sourdough starter to these? I have finally gotten my starter ready to be used and I’m wondering what’s the best way to incorporate the starter into this recipe? Thanks!

  19. I dare you to let these bagels cool for 20 minutes! We couldn’t help but try them right away. This recipe is awesome – where has it been all my life??? I live in the N.Y. area where we are blessed with great bagel places and these are an amazing alternative! Definitely making these again – a lot 🙂

  20. I have to say, these are AMAZING! I haven’t tried to make my own bagels before thinking they must be hard.. Thank you for proving me wrong! I choose to make my dough the night before and do the slow rise in the fridge. I just baked these up and my family is devouring these delicious bagels. They are so much better then my local bagel shop and I can’t wait to experiment with different flavors. Thank you for sharing this recipe and it will definitely be going into my favorite recipe folder!

  21. This is the first time I baked bagels but, having moved to Spain a year and a half ago from Montreal (and it’s most amazing bagels), I became desperate. They turned out great! My kids, husband and I loved them! I see myself doubling this recipe as we already had 4 of the 8 bagels in the first hour since they came out of the oven!

  22. Thanks for this recipe, Sally! I just made them this morning and they are absolutely delicious!! This was my first time making bagels and I was surprised at how well they turned out. Nice golden crunch outside and soft on the inside. One question, though- the bottoms of some of the bagels turned out really tough, as if the bottoms were overbaked. three or four of them. Do you know why?

    1. Hi Miranda! I’m so happy you tried and love these homemade bagels, thank you! Next time, try lowering the oven temperature and rotating the pan halfway through bake time. Also, wait for the bagels to somewhat dry before baking. It’s the water from the boiling step that is burning on the bottoms.

      1. Okay thank you- I will make sure the bagels dry before baking & try a slightly lower temp! One more question- do you have any other ideas on how to store the bagels? I saw your comment saying to ‘store tightly at room temperature or in the fridge’; I put them in an air tight container & kept on the counter, but this morning they are soggy-feeling. I made sure they were completely cool before putting them in the container & I don’t live in a war or humid environment. Any ideas? I would love to be able to keep a batch of these for a few days instead of only one or two.

  23. Thank you for this easy to follow recipe. I am wondering if I can use blueberries in this recipe? They are my daughter’s favorite kind. Should I use frozen/fresh/or dried? Can’t wait to try this.

    1. Hi Tanya! Fresh or frozen blueberries are a little difficult to incorporate into this dough. I’ve tried– many times! My suggestion is to use dried blueberries.

  24. My 16 year old is on a bagel kick so decided to start making my own and came across this recipe. I’m on my second batch and they’re amazing!

    I use cake yeast instead of dry and let them do a second rise in the fridge overnight prior to shaping and baking the next morning. The texture and flavor are amazing and I love the suggested variations.

    I’ll definitely try more of your recipes Sally – thank you for sharing!

  25. Hi Sally,

    I’m excited to try your bagel recipe, as I’ve only ever made bagels once and they turned out hard and inedible. I do have a question about the water bath. Do you add baking soda also? I read through some of the comments and you mentioned a baking soda bath in one but there’s no baking soda in the recipe, only honey/malt syrup.

    Thanks!

    1. Hi Jen! Sorry for the confusion. There is NO baking soda in the boiling water step. Just the honey/malt syrup and water.

  26. Hi Sally, thank you for sharing this recipe. Do you have tips on how to store the bagels? Mine seem to have gotten significantly harder the next day – how should I store them so they remain soft?

    1. Make sure to cover leftover bagels tightly and store at room temperature for a few days or in the refrigerator for up to 1 week. You can wrap them individually to make sure they are really airtight.

  27. Amazing recipe! My first time making them and they turned out better than anything I’ve ever bought in a bagel shop. Delicious and my family loved them! No malt powder or syrup required, but one day I will try that.

    Thank you so much!

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